October 27, 1927

On This Date in TWISTED-HISTORY! in 1927, the film director and inventor Fred Waller received his patent for water skis. Many years later when he was asked about how he came up with the idea, he mentioned that he was directing a silent Western and the damsel in distress was bound with ropes tied to the top of a stage-coach. He had the hero jump on top of the stagecoach while its horses where in full gallop and try and rescue her. He said that the scene was being filmed next to a river and the hero, who was a bit of a clutz, dropped the damsel off the side of the stagecoach directly in the water. They thought for sure she was going to die, but the rope had unraveled enough that the hero was able to hold on to it and the damsel had the strength to hold on to her end and the hero was able to pull her from the river to safety, all while the stagecoach was still moving. Mr. Waller said it was the luckiest scene he every shot.

The interviewer said that was a nice story, but where did Mr. Waller get the idea for water skis?

Mr. Waller just smiled then and said that the damsel in distress had ‘huge’ feet, which was why they only shot scenes of her from her waist up, and that while she was hanging onto the rope while being pulled by the stagecoach, she was actually able to stand up on the water for about thirty seconds. He thought later while reviewing the film that if her feet had been even larger, would she have been able to be pulled by a motorboat on water and not get wet. And that was where he got the idea.

About Joel Byers

Born in North Georgia and educated at some very fine public institutions. Real education started after graduating from college and then getting married and raising two boys. Has the ability to see the funny and absurd in most things and will always remark on it, even if it means getting the stink-eye from his victims.
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